I Am, Therefore I Celebrate

What does it mean to celebrate one’s self? How does one celebrate? Since debuting my book, the notion of celebration has been one I’m sitting with.

I’ve been through many celebrations in my life, and fortunately, enjoyed a fair share of my own. Mostly, we head out for some nice food, a sumptuous meal outside our usual fare. That’s how my family generally does celebrations. It tends to revolve around food. Dress up, head out to a restaurant (pretty but not too fancy), feast, and head home.

A celebration, according to what I found in the dictionary, involves performing a rite to honor an occasion.

In my case, heading out as a family for a good meal was the performed rite. As much as I appreciated that manner of celebrating, something still didn’t sit quite right with me. I didn’t feel like I’ve truly grasped the spirit of celebration. There was a hollowness.

A rite was performed. What about the honor?

Truth be told, I rarely celebrated myself. I didn’t know how to. I knew not what honor meant, much less what it meant to honor myself.

In my past life working in creative agencies, whenever I was promoted, I kept it to myself. A good day at work, I kept it to myself. A compliment from my client, I kept it to myself. A new job offer, I kept it to myself. The email will go out; my boss will make the announcement; keep it going, let’s not be complacent; new chapter, the hard work starts now. My mind came up, quickly and relentlessly, with plenty of reasons why I should just keep to myself and not celebrate. “Hush, don’t brag,” shame used my speed and resourcefulness against me, corrupting my ideas of humility and modesty.

I did not see the need to celebrate. After all, I was just doing…my job.

Who we take ourselves to be shape how and what we celebrate. So, who did I take myself to be when I did not see the need to celebrate? I did not acknowledge my accomplishments in the name of humility. I saw the need to be humble in order to be seen as a good person, but I had taken the notion of humility too far. Humility comes from knowing one’s place from moment to moment. It does not come from the act of lowering one’s worth.

So, celebration.

Do I have a clearer idea of it now?

Maybe. Yet another art to be learned.

And I’m learning. Learning the distinction between celebrating an outcome and celebrating a person, learning what honor is.

My dear friend taught me through her own way with her regular generous reminders of my awesomeness. “You are awesome. And even if you didn’t have the book, you are still awesome.” She witnesses my journey of unfoldment. She celebrates both the outcome (my achievement of publishing a book) and me (for being me, for showing up as me)

We often celebrate achievements but how many of us celebrate the journeys we go through, and the challenges we undertake to get here? How many of us celebrate our persons in our full courage and power and perseverance to brave through every day?

Honor comes through witnessing—being present to receiving the magnitude and gravity of another’s being, expression, and deed.

How do I honor myself? Surprisingly, it could be as simple as allowing myself to squeal in joy and rejoice over the kind words I’ve received from others. It’s about seeing and acknowledging myself.

It starts by noticing the little things, and taking a pause to mark them. A big treat is not always necessary. What’s needed is a recognition, a nod from myself to me, a pat on my own shoulder.

I celebrate not just for publishing my book, but for my audacious attempt to even try. I celebrate not just my transformation, but for the Self that was possible with the friends I’ve made in my life.

I celebrate today, for I’m gifted another day of miracle to be here.

How about you, how and what do you celebrate? Who do you take yourself to be?

Rosslyn is a poet and a developmental coach who creates and holds space for repose, healing, and transformation through her words and being. Check out her debut book, “The Weight of My Soul: Uncovering My Significance.”